The Mexican American Family Album

MexicanThe Mexican American Family Album

1994, Oxford University Press






Excerpt from The Mexican American Family Album:

Dr. Celestino Fernandez, is an administrator and professor of mathematics at the University of Arizona, but he still returns frequently to the village in Mexico where he was born. He speaks for many immigrants when he describes what it is like to have an identity in two countries.

“I feel Mexican and I behave American. Inside, my feelings, my values, my attitudes, my beliefs are based in Mexican culture, but my behavior is very American. I feel very comfortable here. I understand the system and I can work it….

“I haven’t left Mexico behind. I always carry a letter in my briefcase from my grandmother, written four years ago when I was promoted to Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. She knows that I work at a university. She doesn’t know exactly what I do, but she knows I have an important position. She wrote me a letter of congratulations. She says, ‘We know that you’ve done a lot in terms of education and your career, but you never make us feel uncomfortable. When you come here you’re Tino. You treat us as if we were equals.’ I know exactly what she was talking about because I have cousins who, after being in the United States for five or ten years, will go back to Santa Inez and dress in a tie and suit–in this little town. It makes no sense whatsoever, right? It’s presumptuous, it’s irritating to people, and rightly so. When I go there I help milk the cows because I enjoy it. I enjoy riding horses in the country. There are different chances, different opportunities.”


Parent’s Choice Award
Selected for the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen-Age